Senator McCain's defense of Barack Obama


Diamond Member
Jul 30, 2004
I've been bothered by this ever since Senator McCain's defense of Senator Obama at his campaign rally. Faced with an elderly lady's statement, "I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not, he's not uh... he's an Arab. He's not... ", Senator McCain replied, "No, ma'am, no ma'am. He's a, he's a, he's a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on, on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not. Thank you."

Why has is no one talking about Senator McCain's false dichotomy between "an Arab" and "a decent family man"? The only one I've heard remark on this at all was Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher. He made the point that this would not have been tolerated if the "slur" was not "an Arab". Can you imagine the outcry if the exchange had been "He's a Catholic", "No ma'am, he's a decent family man", or "He's a Jew", "No ma'am, he's a decent family man", or "He's a Negro", "No ma'am, he's a decent family man"? The "War on Terror" continues to poison our culture, as we demonize not just radical Islam, but all Islam and all Arabs.

Colin Powell noted something similar in the Republican attacks on Senator Obama when he mentioned the "Obama is a Muslim" subtext in the campaign. IIRC, his comment was (more or less) "the truthful answer is 'No, he's a Christian; he's always been a Christian'. The bigger question is, why should it matter if he were Muslim?".

Is anyone else here troubled at all by this?


Feb 6, 2002
McCain in his mind could not take that extra step and say so what if some of his family were Arab (assuming born in the middle east disqualifies). It flies in the face of the basic GOP strategy of us vs them. Non small town, non white, non christian people are not "real Americans". Remember the now Palin gaffe, she let the truth in their minds slip she only visits "pro-american" parts of the country.


Diamond Member
Jan 23, 2006
This has already been discussed to death, from the time when the original "Muslim" claims started floating around. To put it simply, this line, fine-tuning the message in terms of being OK to be Muslim, etc., is valid to a degree, but taking it shows that you missed the context.

The people for whom this fine-tuning would work don't need to be told that Obama is not a Muslim, or an Arab, etc., and those people who do need a message don't need to be further confused by this level -- they're having a hard enough time already.

The much greater point here of course is also the fact that it was McCain in this instance making this defense, and the least great point is the incorrectly raised "false dichotomy". It's clear that from the perspective of the person making the claim, that "can't be trusted" is a part of the claim of being Muslim/Arab/etc., and "decent family man" is a valid and clear counter-point, not the idiotic, "so what if he was a Muslim/Arab?" in this context which would merely further confuse and antagonize.

Capt Caveman

Jan 30, 2005
But you're not bothered that McCain would call Obama a decent family man though he used to take his children to a church to hear racist sermons?


Oct 12, 1999
I think McCain answered her correctly. I assume that McCain took the woman's inference that Obama was an "Arab" as to mean that he was llike the extemeist who attacked this country. That is how I took the question. Which prompted McCain to respond to the woman she was wrong and that Obama was a decent man who is a citizen of this country.